Have you ever seen a hearse that's not black but painted with a field of colorful flowers? You have if you read British funeral magazines. (The hearse is gorgeous, BTW.) You've also seen lots of varieties of "green" caskets with flowers woven through them--there have been at least half a dozen different ads for them in every issue of the British funeral magazines for several years. Thanks to the efforts of ICCFA Office Manager Brenda Clough, we receive funeral and cemetery magazines from far and wide. Most are from North America, but some are from overseas.
"Memento," from Poland, is the most exotic and enticing. Enticing because Polish uses the Roman alphabet, and words such as "cmentarz," "funeralne" and "krematorim" look familiar. But most of the other words don't, as you soon discover when you try to puzzle out even a single sentence in one photo caption: "W chwili zamykania numeru, otrzymaliśmy wstrząsającą informację o olbrzymich stratach wyrządzonych przez huragan "Orkan" na Cmentarzu Centralnym w Szczecinie." OK, then. It's about a cemetery.
You can always use the free Internet translation sites. According to one, that sentence means, "At the time of closure of a number, we received information about shaking huge losses caused by Hurricane "Orkan" at the Central Cemetery in Szczecin." Of course, "huragan" means "hurricane." I now know FOUR words of Polish! My guess is that the magazine staff heard just before going to press that the cemetery had been damaged by winds from Hurricane Orkan, which makes sense since the photos show monuments damaged by fallen trees. But that's a whole lot of typing of consonants and inserting special characters to get one little sentence translated.
I'm glad I can easily read the British and Australian magazines. I have a special fondness for the Aussies, partly because I'm a night owl. Often when I send an e-mail in the evening to someone at the Australasian Cemeteries & Crematoria Association, I get an immediate reply, since it's already the next workday there. The "ACCA News" is lovely; I've reprinted numerous stories from it.
Sometimes I see things I can envision making their way to North America. British magazines have been full of news about "natural" (green) burial sites for years. There is a heartbreaking and sensitive article in the February "Funeral Service Journal" by a mother who no longer visits the woodland burial ground where she placed her daughter. She used to love the site, but now finds it upsetting because, in clear violation of the rules, family members of others buried there have left so many toys, chimes and plastic gee-gaws that the woodland peace has been ruined. The more things change, the more they stay the same ...